East London Liquor Company

A few weeks back (and when I say a few, I mean two months ago), my family and I took a trip up to Mile End, to celebrate my parent’s wedding anniversary. They moved to London 35 years ago and originally lived in Hackney, so they were keen to go back to see how much the area has changed.

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We decided to hit up East London Liquor Company, a gin and vodka distillery in East London with a bottle shop and restaurant. You’ll find it just south of Vicky Park next to the canal. It’s a well-kept secret (there’s no signage) and it’s just simply decorated with reclaimed brick walls and salvaged trestle tables – the shimmering copper distillers behind the bar do all the talking here.

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It was a beautiful golden afternoon and after being crammed on a sweltering hot central line tube, all I could think about was that gin and tonic waiting for me at the end of my journey. They boast an incredible stash of bottled spirits (and you can book into distillery tours) but if you’d rather a cold beer (like my brother) they’ve got it by the bucketful.

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If you need something to soak up the booze, they’ve got an on-site restaurant which is influenced by Italian cuisine, complete with a pizza oven and array of sharing plates. We dived into the sharing plates and each ordered our favourite thing on the menu to divide between the four of us: prosciutto & ricotta wrapped grissini, zucchini tagliatelle, artichoke & fennel Salad, and burrata served with nettles.

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I’ll definitely start incorporating the prosciutto and ricotta wrapped grissini into my dinner parties, such a simple snack but one that is incredibly tasty.

The other highlight was the zucchini tagliatelle, it was so light and was served with a dollop of parmesan cheese on top. If you ever find yourself at The East London Liquor Company and fancy a snack to accompany your drinks, get this.

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And if you’re anything like my family, a couple of sharing plates isn’t enough, and thankfully their pizza oven comes to the rescue when feeding the Boasts. Order the ricotta stuffed crust, which is topped with tomato, salami, parmesan and rocket.

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East London Liquor CompanyUnit GF1, Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, London, E3 5SN

*Main photo courtesy of East London Liquor Company

 

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Broadgate Circle

“Broadgate Circle, where’s that?” my dad asked before I ventured out for brunch last Sunday. It’s nestled just a stone’s throw away from Liverpool Street Station. I always find the City of London to be a strange place on the weekend, it’s eerily quiet – but now I’ve figured out where everyone is flocking to – Broadgate Circle. It’s a relatively recent development, but it’s fast become a foodie hub and it brings together a varied collection of restaurants, cafes, bars and street food to the City.

I’d like to stress that Broadgate Circle is such a good place to catch-up with people, because of it’s closeness to Liverpool Street Station — the epicenter of all transport connections.

So, what’s on offer?

Beany Green

It’s a funky spot that brightens up the concrete jungle that is Broadgate Circle, and it’s here where I went for brunch last weekend. There are not many seats (and the majority of them are outside) as it’s the type of place that is geared up for a workers lunch. Their counter is full of vibrant salads, protein balls, and muffins to take away.  But we were here for brunch – my advice is to go hungry as you can as they offer a two-course bottomless brunch with free-flowing cocktails.

Their avocado toast is one of the best I’ve ever made. It’s served on organic charcoal sourdough, topped with avocado and then sprinkled with lime and lemon dukkah. Served with a dollop of labneh and homemade chili pesto.

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The Crab Tavern

I originally came here with a couple of friends and I’ve been dying to go back since. It’s such a warm and inviting eatery with leather booths and high tables – although I’d probably swerve it on a Thursday as it’s full of city slickers get pissed.

Now, you will have to shell out a fair bit to eat here, and naturally, crab does feature heavily on the menu. And I’m not kidding: hot, cold, served tartar or deep fried, on bread, in a coquette, or stacked into towers. If you can do it to a crab, they do it here.

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Yauatcha City

Brought to you by the genius behind the Hakkasan Group and Yauatcha City offers high-quality Dim Sum. The restaurant is huge (and albeit a slightly odd shape as it essentially occupies an entire semi-circle of Broadgate Circle).

All of the delights of authentic Cantonese dim sum are on offer here and they have installed open kitchens, so you’re able to watch the skills chefs prepare a huge range of steamed, baked, grilled and fried dim sum. Just promise me if you venture here that you’ll try the Venison Puffs.

Yauatcha City

Franco Manca

I’ve mentioned Franco Manca on my blog before (and much has been said about it). I adore their slow-rising sourdough pizza bases and the fact that the ingredients are either organic Italian or locally sourced, definitely appeals to me. It’s also incredibly affordable, you can easily bag you’re a pizza for £6 – and even though it’s cheap, they don’t comprise on taste.

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Shoryu Ramen

This joint is from the folk behind the Japan Centre, and the clue is in the name in terms of what they offer here – Ramen. But more specifically, Tonkotsu Ramen. It’s a thick, rich, 12-hour pork broth ramen served with char siu, pork belly, nitamago egg, mushrooms, spring onions, sesame, and seaweed.

But if ramen isn’t your thing, don’t fret. There are plenty of other options, like their steamed buns and gyozas.

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Adidas Women’s Studio | Brick Lane

In London, decent gyms can cost a small fortune (and how I wish my local gym membership was cheaper) – but this year Adidas have launched their women’s only studio in Brick Lane. It’s completely FREE and they host weekly run clubs and classes. You just need to sign up via Facebook messenger and then you can pop along to any of their sessions. The schedule is announced and unlocked on a weekly basis, and then users can reserve spaces for all events.

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I’ve been going for a couple of weeks now and I’m becoming obsessed. So far I’ve been to a Barre class, HIIT workout, and this week I went to two yoga classes – I’m yet to sign up to any of their run clubs though!

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Given a 45 minute workout elsewhere in London can set you back £15 to £20, the Adidas Studio is a steal. The studio is located in a warehouse on Brick Lane, right opposite The Old Truman Brewery. It’s sleek and naturally-lit, with all white everything and potted plants.

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There’s also a cafe on the ground floor, hosted by Bel-Air. Their prices are pretty reasonable and if you’re booked into a morning class, I can guarantee you that you’ll want a coffee afterwards to help you face the day.

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The barre class I attended was hosted by Aimee Victoria Long. Having never done barre before I was pretty nervous as my balance is terrible, but she made me feel at ease. It’s definitely something I want to do more of.

I also loved my HIIT session, which was run by Lisanne van Sonsbeek, a PT from Move your Frame. The workout was similar to my usual gym sessions, but toward the end of the class she paired us up and made us workout with another girl in the group. Which really pushed us to work even harder for the last 10 minutes.

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The studio is open until October and it’s definitely something to get involved in.

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Adidas Women’s Studio, 152 Brick Lane, London, E1 5EG

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Green room cafe | Is it worth the wait?

There’s a cute little cafe in Stoke Newington which is merged with a flower shop, known as the Green room Cafe. It’s nestled on Church Street, and if you walk through the florists and head to the back, you’ll find the cafe. It’s got a beautiful outside space where you can bask in the sun and nibble on their cakes in amidst of the plants and flowers.

We were seated promptly (however that was the only thing that was done swiftly), as it takes ages for the staff here to bring you anything. There were only two people covering the entire restaurant which has about 30 tables – a recipe for a disaster.

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We should have picked up on the vibes of the other diners when we arrived – there was definitely an air of annoyance coming from most people and the majority of tables had stacks of dirty dishes piling up on the side.

The main waiter was rushing around telling everyone he would be over in 5 minutes, while seemingly doing nothing other than get himself into a flap. Whilst the other clutched the menu in between his claws and paced up and down the cafe, ‘Hello, can we please have one of those menus in your hands?” – nope, nothing.  And so we were left waiting for almost half an hour until we were finally brought some menus and a jug of tap water.

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Once we finally got our hands on the menu, I decided on a veggie breakfast of halloumi, kale squeak, homemade beans, tomato, mushroom, eggs and toast. My mum opted for the chorizo  shakshuka, which comes with two poached eggs in a tomato sauce and a side of sourdough.

It was then another mission to try and get them to take our order. The only real reason we stuck around was the beautiful setting – it’s kind of hard to stay angry when you’re surrounded by succulents and daffodils.

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Homemade baked beans are rare and these were good. But that’s about where it ends because I served just half of a mushroom. Just half. In what world is serving half a mushroom acceptable? The kale squeak was unseasoned and as there was no salt and pepper on the tables (shock), I couldn’t rectify it to suit my taste buds.

My mum’s shakshuka was good but the eggs were definitely overcooked. a big no no for me. Plus a parsley garnish would have made this dish a real treat and would have helped to amplified the flavour.

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Our brunch was turbulent, we were happy to leave and get out of their hair. I was glad that we had to pay at the till and we were served by the barista. The only process which wasn’t long winded is the one where they take your money. For two coffees, an orange juice and two meals came to £20 – not bad but it would have been nice to get some sort of compensation for the disaster of a breakfast we had just had.

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Green Room Cafe, 113 Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, N16 0UD

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Oodles of Noodles at Bone Daddies

Ramen, it’s basically soup on  steroids. And ramen bars in London are 10 a penny with Bone Daddies spawning like rabbits. It’s a unstoppable trend and I for one am welcoming with open arms. Sometimes all you need is a huge, comforting bowl of soup filled to the brim with noodles, a delicious homemade broth and topped with a tender joint of meat.

Bone Daddies are the type of place which plays old school rock ‘n’ roll whilst you slurp on oodles of noodles. I headed to their outpost in Old Street with a couple of girl friends after work one evening. It’s got a killer vibe; the decor is sleek and diners sit along high communal tables.

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Pots of the usual ramen accompaniments litter the tables – garlic, sesame seeds, vinegar and chilli paste. Oh, and there’s also the not so usual like a jar crammed full of hairbands and plastic bibs. How thoughtful, because to really enjoy the sexy bowls of ramen that Bone Daddies serve, you need to slurp.

Bone Daddies

I dived into the Tonkotsu ramen  and the broth used is made by extracting pork essence for over 20 hours. It also comes with pork belly, thin noodles, spring onions, bamboo, beansprouts and an soy egg. A word of advice? Only come here on an empty stomach.

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That said, I couldn’t resist some mochi, which are tiny mounds of ice-cream with a shell of rice flour. We opted for a selection of salted caramel, banana, chocolate and green tea. The majority of these little balls were too sweet for my taste, but I thoroughly enjoyed the flavour which was packed in the green tea mochi – it had that bitter matcha taste which I adore.

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Bone Daddies, The Bower, 211 Old St, London EC1V 9NV

Indian Smallplates at Gunpowder

Shoreditch is notorious for Indian restaurants, and more often than not they’re the type of curry houses where you get that all too familar carb slump after filling up on bowlfuls of chicken korma, lime pickle and poppadoms. But at Gunpowder you’ll find none of the above.

I’m currently making my way through TimeOut’s Top 100 Restaurants in London and it’s no suprise that Gunpowder are ranked in the top 20, they whip up outstanding and innovative small plates cooked with authentic Indian spices.

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Gunpowder is tucked away on a small lane in Spitalfields and this narrow Indian restaurant barely has space for around two dozen covers. But the cramped conditions are worth putting up with for the quirky dishes that come flooding out of the kitchen.

We started with the patrani maach,which was described to us as a river fish cooked in a banana leaf – it simply fell apart and had a delicious, subtle lemongrass and mustard seed flavour.

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Next came the aloo chat, a dish which potatoes are roasted in a spice mix and then smashed and covered with yoghurt, chickpeass, tomatoes – a beautiful combiation which gives a sweet and tangy taste.

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Soft-shell crab isn’t a dish I’d expect to find on an Indian menu, but at Gunpowder the risks pay off. The crab is encased in a crisp, light batter and serves to really enhance and protect the juiciness of the crab within.

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We also devoured their outstanding okra fries – a crispy triumph and a beautiful accompaniment to any dish served up at Gunpowder.

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To finish we had the molten chocolate cake served with masala chai custard. Spiced custard is truly the way of the future.

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And, if you’re in the mood for booze there’s some interesting Indian cocktails too. I had a bellini served with chilli and corriondar, and boy it packed a punch.

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Gunpowder, 11 White’s Row, London E1 7NF

Brunch at Jones & Sons

Restaurant hide-and-seek is the game Scott and I played when we headed to Jones & Sons in Dalston last weekend. In late October they packed up shop and moved just around the corner to a much larger venue which is located off Gillett Square, and boasts a separate bar area as well as a private courtyard for alfresco dining.

It’s an unassuming little place and incredibly easy to walk past as it’s only sign post on the main road is just a small menu. However, the restaurant itself is beautiful and it plays homage to its old surroundings and home – it’s kept some of the industrial ex-warehouse features and the space is kept deliberately minimalist and is completely flooded with natural light.

When Scott and I arrived the restaurant was completely packed full of people taking full advantage of the bottomless brunch offered, but we still managed to grab two seats at the bar. The bar itself is made of marble (and is made for getting that perfect Instagram shot), however the stools sit far too low making it quite difficult to eat.

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Whilst Jones & Sons is known for the famous bottomless brunches, Scott and I decided to simply order from the menu. I was feeling a bit peek-ish from the following night so decided to kill my pounding head with a Bloody Mary – and boy, it did the trick. The drink was perfectly balanced, bright red and just the right thickness.

I went for the Eggs Royale – an English muffin, topped with smoked salmon, two poached eggs and lashings of hollandise sauce. Since a couple of failed attempts of a hollandise sauce at home I can really appreciate a good one, and at Jones & Sons theirs was the perfect consistency and not too tart from the vinegar and lemon.

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Scott opted for the Full English which came with all the trimmings – a fried egg, black pudding, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and toast. Now it’s not that I’m a slow eater, I just don’t believe Scott breathes when he eats as the plate was demolished in seconds flat.

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Jones & Sons is definitely the place to come for a boozy brunch, but maybe not so perfect if you’re already nursing a hangover as it’s full of twenty-year-olds taking full advantage of the unlimited drinks.

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Jones & Sons, 2G, stamford works, 3 Gillett St, London N16 8JH